Birth month now basis for SSS pensioners’ schedule of annual visit -- SSS

Social Security System pensioners can now easily remember their annual schedule for confirming their eligibility to pension, with the yearly visit to banks or SSS, SSS said in a press release Monday.

It said the annual schedule is based on the members’ birth month, instead of the month of contingency such as retirement, death or disability.

SSS President and Chief Executive Officer Emilio de Quiros, Jr. said pensioners for retirement and total disability can present themselves for the Annual Confirmation of Pensioners (ACOP) program on their birth month.

SSS death pensioners must comply with the ACOP on the deceased member’s birth month. The SSS press release follows what some pensioners, who have been receiving their monthly pension for at least five years and then failed suddenly to receive their meager pension, described as an arbitrary and improperly disseminated ACOP.

One pensioner, who spoke on condition he would not be identified, told the SSS branch near his residence that he had been receiving his pension regularly for the past 60 months and there was not a single ACOP to reckon with.

The pensioner said there could not have been a non-ACOP -- non-confirmation of pensioner's program -- since there was no letter received at all to comply with.

The SSS official told the pensioner that there were thousands of others whose pensions were also stopped because of non-ACOP -- a reason the pensioner said was "most unreasonable and arbitrary and a crude way of finding out whether the pensioner is still alive."

The SSS press release said under previous ACOP compliance guidelines, retired or disabled pensioners must visit their depository bank or any SSS branch on the month of their disability or retirement.

The schedule for surviving spouses receiving SSS death pensions falls on the month of the member’s death anniversary.

"Birthdays are memorable occasions for anyone. And with the ACOP visit now pegged on the member’s birth month instead of the month of contingency, SSS pensioners can better remember their ACOP schedule, and thus, avoid suspension of their pensions," he said in the press release.

"Pensioners also have the option to comply as early as six months before their birth month, which shall be treated as early ACOP compliance."

De Quiros added that SSS pensioners who find it difficult to make that once-a-year visit for ACOP compliance, like those based overseas, aged 80 years old and above, with poor health or under confinement, can still comply by submitting the required documents to SSS through mail, via email or through a representative within their birth month.

In 2012, a total 2,850 pensioners with a combined monthly pension of P7.57 million were discovered to be no longer eligible for pension based on SSS’ interviews, evaluation of submitted documents and physical examination of those who complied with the ACOP.

"These pensions were immediately stopped by SSS branches upon discovery. Reasons for the cancelled pensions include the pensioners’ death, re-employment for those under age 65, remarriage of surviving spouse and members’ recovery from total disability," de Quiros said.

He added: "SSS savings from our ACOP implementation in 2012 alone translate to over P90 million every year. "This attests to the program’s success in protecting members’ funds from those who attempt to cheat the system of benefits that they are no longer entitled to receive."

Under the law, SSS pensions must cease upon the pensioner’s death, or if the SSS retirement pensioner below age 65 returns to work.

Disability pensions are cancelled if the member recovers from the disability.,p>It said spouses who remarry or cohabit become ineligible for SSS death pensions.

Philippines News agency